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  1. #1
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    Confused with all these racks

    Right now, I've got a really cheap bell trunk rack that I put on my mazda 3, and I'm tired of my frame scratching up the back of my car and all my bikes getting tangled up, so I'm ready to upgrade to a nicer rack!

    First, I found this:
    Yakima Roof Bike Rack
    It looks like the one where you take off the front wheel, but I'm not sure? The poster says it isn't. Anyway, he had it on an '03 jetta so it'll probably work with mine, right? Would there be any extra hardware I would need for that?

    On the other hand, I could install a hitch... It would be a class 1 1-1/4" probably, so I'm not sure if that's suitable for a hitch rack. Anyone have any experience with that? I was looking at the saris thelma (Saris Thelma 2-Bike Hitch Rack at REI.com) for three bikes. My main concern is the safety of the rack in the hitch.

    I usually carry 2-3 bikes, 2 mtn and one road, or 2-3 mtn. Which would be the best, do you think? Obviously if I could get the roof rack, it would be the cheapest/most secure option, but what do you guys think?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Well, what year of mazda 3 do you have? You will most likely need different Q-Clips for the Yakima Q-Towers that he has. The Jetta and the mazda 3 use different clips. I can't tell what kind of carriers he has on it though. Did he say what model they were? A hitch runs about $130 plus the cost of that rack. The clips should only cost you $20-$60 (depending on whether you can get them used or not). It looks like the rack is your cheaper option. Also, keep in mind that you will lose MPG's if that's a concern.
    There is a lot to consider, but for cost, that roof rack is probably your best option.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bakracer View Post
    Well, what year of mazda 3 do you have? You will most likely need different Q-Clips for the Yakima Q-Towers that he has. The Jetta and the mazda 3 use different clips. I can't tell what kind of carriers he has on it though. Did he say what model they were? A hitch runs about $130 plus the cost of that rack. The clips should only cost you $20-$60 (depending on whether you can get them used or not). It looks like the rack is your cheaper option. Also, keep in mind that you will lose MPG's if that's a concern.
    There is a lot to consider, but for cost, that roof rack is probably your best option.
    Yeah, I asked him what kind of carrier he had, and all he told me was "It has straps for the wheels both front and rear." So I don't know if he doesn't know what he's talking about or what.

    Side question: Is there a nice trunk mount bike rack that I can buy, where I can easily transport three bikes with minimal hassle? (by hassle, I mean bikes touching, having to take off pedals, etc.) I really just want roominess. It's times like these when I wish I bought an SUV instead of my little car then I'd already have a hitch

  4. #4
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    I can see that it has straps for the front and rear wheels, but what keeps the bike secured? I couldn't see any arm like the lockjaw. Has he sent any other pictures of it? If it's just the 2 straps, don't buy it. I've never seen a Yakima rack that only had 2 straps, so I'm leaning towards it being a lockjaw or raptor.

    As far as a 3 bike trunk mount that would work fairly well, probably go with this unless you have a spoiler (I think this is a no no, but not sure)
    Saris Bones 3 Bike Trunk Rack - Free Shipping at REI.com
    The mazda can be roomy enough. I have a sedan and I primarily use my hitch rack, but had a roof rack.
    PS-not all SUVs come with a hitch, just an FYI.

  5. #5
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    Save yourself the headache and heartache, and pass on the Bones. Either go roof or hitch/rack. SeaSucker is also an option.
    '13 FELT TK3 48:15
    Fixed gear - but not a hipster
    2014 miles - 1398/2500

  6. #6
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    I second passing on the Saris. A friend has one for her Miata and the plastic wheel cups are not very strong and don't fit her smallish tires. She is looking for a better rack.

    It depends on how often you'll be using the rack and how often you plan to take it off the car. For lots of on and off, go with the hitch rack. For infrequent use, a roof rack might be cheaper. If you get one of the roof racks that requires front wheel removal, figure out where the dirty wheels will go with all of your other gear while driving.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bakracer View Post
    I can see that it has straps for the front and rear wheels, but what keeps the bike secured? I couldn't see any arm like the lockjaw. Has he sent any other pictures of it? If it's just the 2 straps, don't buy it. I've never seen a Yakima rack that only had 2 straps, so I'm leaning towards it being a lockjaw or raptor.

    As far as a 3 bike trunk mount that would work fairly well, probably go with this unless you have a spoiler (I think this is a no no, but not sure)
    Saris Bones 3 Bike Trunk Rack - Free Shipping at REI.com
    The mazda can be roomy enough. I have a sedan and I primarily use my hitch rack, but had a roof rack.
    PS-not all SUVs come with a hitch, just an FYI.
    So you don't think I'll have a problem getting a hitch? I'm just worried about going over bumps and stuff like that, not really about hitting the ground but the torque applied on the frame of the car.

    So if I got a roof rack, I'd either buy it from the site or piece it together from ebay (qtowers, qclips, bars, bike carrier(s),) or get it from the craigslist guy depending on what carriers he has on it.

    And if I got a hitch rack, do you guys recommend platform vs top tube? Which specific model/models do you recommend?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by amantonas View Post
    So you don't think I'll have a problem getting a hitch? I'm just worried about going over bumps and stuff like that, not really about hitting the ground but the torque applied on the frame of the car.

    And if I got a hitch rack, do you guys recommend platform vs top tube? Which specific model/models do you recommend?
    Uhh, what? Why would there be a problem going over bumps? It's a mazda 3. I'm sure it comes with the option for a towbar in at least europe, and most likely other places. There are probably a few aftermarket choices for it. What are you talking about? (from the perspective of someone who's used a hitch rack on several different cars for 7 years.

    Also, the "top tube" "hanging" racks from the 1990s are a bad idea, they let the bikes smash together, swing, and damage the top tubes. The "tray" racks from the late 2000s and later are better in every way. Thule, 1up, Kuat, Yakima, etc.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  9. #9
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    Second for a tray rack. Wheel contact only, nothing on the frame. I had one of the cheaper tray style racks, where it hooks over the top of the frame, and I had a few issues with it not remaining secure while on the road. Sold that and moved to a Saris Thelma, and the bikes remained secure on the rack on the road. Rack was much heavier but the piece of mind was worth it.
    '13 FELT TK3 48:15
    Fixed gear - but not a hipster
    2014 miles - 1398/2500

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenSpeed View Post
    Second for a tray rack. Wheel contact only, nothing on the frame. I had one of the cheaper tray style racks, where it hooks over the top of the frame, and I had a few issues with it not remaining secure while on the road. Sold that and moved to a Saris Thelma, and the bikes remained secure on the rack on the road. Rack ways much heavier but the piece of mind was worth it.
    So you recommend the Thelma? I'm looking at the 3 bike one.

    And to the above poster, it says in my user manual that under no circumstances should I install a hitch on my car and that if I do it'll void my warranty. It also says under no circumstances to push start the car so I take that with a grain of salt, but it still makes me a little wary.

  11. #11
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    Looking at the pic on CL it looks like a fork mount option, if it is a non fork option there is no place to secure the front wheel and keep the bike upright. Like this which has support to keep it upright.

    The guy does not seem to have much info to give you on what he actually has, which makes me nervous.

    I would look into a hitch system more than a roof system. I do have a roof rack (the one I linked actually) which was great but does eat up some of the mpgs. I currently have a hitch rack for two reasons. 1) My Honda Element is much taller than my old vehicle and is a pain to get a bike on top 2) The element came with a hitch

    It's a lot easier to deal with a bike when it is at your level vs trying to reach on top of a vehicle. Now on my old Passat Wagon it was not that difficult but could propose a problem on heavier bikes. Now I do not care how heavy your bike is, I only have to get it six inches off the ground.

    Downside to a hitch rack is going to be opening the rear hatch, on my element which is a clam style rear end I can get the glass open with or without bikes and if it is folded up. I can put the trunk down flat when there are no bikes on it and it is laying flat.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pink57 View Post
    Looking at the pic on CL it looks like a fork mount option, if it is a non fork option there is no place to secure the front wheel and keep the bike upright. Like this which has support to keep it upright.

    The guy does not seem to have much info to give you on what he actually has, which makes me nervous.

    I would look into a hitch system more than a roof system. I do have a roof rack (the one I linked actually) which was great but does eat up some of the mpgs. I currently have a hitch rack for two reasons. 1) My Honda Element is much taller than my old vehicle and is a pain to get a bike on top 2) The element came with a hitch

    It's a lot easier to deal with a bike when it is at your level vs trying to reach on top of a vehicle. Now on my old Passat Wagon it was not that difficult but could propose a problem on heavier bikes. Now I do not care how heavy your bike is, I only have to get it six inches off the ground.

    Downside to a hitch rack is going to be opening the rear hatch, on my element which is a clam style rear end I can get the glass open with or without bikes and if it is folded up. I can put the trunk down flat when there are no bikes on it and it is laying flat.
    What rack do you have?

  13. #13
    Did I catch a niner?
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    I have:

    Veloporter 2
    This has been fitted with a hitch mount option (is for a bus).

    Frontloader
    I have this also front when I had a Passat Wagon which is much lower to the ground, it is for sale at this time (fits any cross bar besides Xterra).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Confused with all these racks-veloporter_1.jpg  

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  14. #14
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    This is my 3 with a Curt Hitch and a Thule Doubletrack 990XT. Works great.

    The 3 can handle this just fine. I've even carried a couple obese beach cruisers 20 miles or so. I can see the rack flex a bit when the big bikes are on there, but under the load of mtb or road bikes, very solid.

    The only reason the car is riding low in the back is that I was loaded for a very long road trip. The 3 handles this all fine. If you have any other questions, let me know.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bakracer View Post
    This is my 3 with a Curt Hitch and a Thule Doubletrack 990XT. Works great.

    The 3 can handle this just fine. I've even carried a couple obese beach cruisers 20 miles or so. I can see the rack flex a bit when the big bikes are on there, but under the load of mtb or road bikes, very solid.

    The only reason the car is riding low in the back is that I was loaded for a very long road trip. The 3 handles this all fine. If you have any other questions, let me know.
    Awesome! That's what I wanted to know. One of my friends has one of those fatties haha its huge and it takes up so much room! Hopefully this will make it easier.

  16. #16
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    If you intend to use a tray style rack for a fat bike make sure the tray will handle a tire that wide. Some may not.

  17. #17
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    Quote Originally Posted by amantonas View Post
    So you recommend the Thelma? I'm looking at the 3 bike one.

    And to the above poster, it says in my user manual that under no circumstances should I install a hitch on my car and that if I do it'll void my warranty. It also says under no circumstances to push start the car so I take that with a grain of salt, but it still makes me a little wary.
    I don't know if I would recommend the Thelma. If you are looking for a 3 bike option on a 1 1/4 hitch, that is your only option. I had the Thelma 2, and to be honest, it was a nice rack, but I had issues with it. The rack never sat straight in the hitch. It is the design of the rack, as the tube that slides into the hitch has rounded edges. I did all kinds of measuring with levels, and the car was level, the ground was level, the hitch was level, but when the rack went in, it was way off. Contacted Saris, sent them pictures, and they sent me a new piece, and I got the exact same results. The rack had quite a bit of wobble in it as well, so much that I took it to a welding shop, and had them weld part of it hoping that it would straighten the rack and help with the wobble. It did to some extent, but I ended up trading it for another tray rack instead. Sold that car, and then sold the rack so I no longer have one. If I were to get another one, it would be a Yakima or Thule I think.

    Here is the car, with the older rack with the over the bar style lock downs. There were always issues getting the bikes set in the rack, unlike the Thelma where you had a defined location based on the wheels. This is the kind of rack that I would not get again.

    '13 FELT TK3 48:15
    Fixed gear - but not a hipster
    2014 miles - 1398/2500

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenSpeed View Post
    I don't know if I would recommend the Thelma. If you are looking for a 3 bike option on a 1 1/4 hitch, that is your only option. I had the Thelma 2, and to be honest, it was a nice rack, but I had issues with it. The rack never sat straight in the hitch. It is the design of the rack, as the tube that slides into the hitch has rounded edges. I did all kinds of measuring with levels, and the car was level, the ground was level, the hitch was level, but when the rack went in, it was way off. Contacted Saris, sent them pictures, and they sent me a new piece, and I got the exact same results. The rack had quite a bit of wobble in it as well, so much that I took it to a welding shop, and had them weld part of it hoping that it would straighten the rack and help with the wobble. It did to some extent, but I ended up trading it for another tray rack instead. Sold that car, and then sold the rack so I no longer have one. If I were to get another one, it would be a Yakima or Thule I think.

    Here is the car, with the older rack with the over the bar style lock downs. There were always issues getting the bikes set in the rack, unlike the Thelma where you had a defined location based on the wheels. This is the kind of rack that I would not get again.

    So were you using the 1.25" on that car? That's kind of tricky because I just bought the rack. When I get it tomorrow, I'll try the tube in the hitch and see if it is overly wobbly. Hopefully they have it straightened out by now. Thanks for the advice.

  19. #19
    I'd rather be on my bike
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    Yep, 1.25" on the Audi. I hope that yours turns out better.
    '13 FELT TK3 48:15
    Fixed gear - but not a hipster
    2014 miles - 1398/2500

  20. #20
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    Kuat Sherpa using the 1.25 hitch on the back of my Mazdaspeed 3. A roof rack was going to just be too expensive.
    Fat guys need bikes too.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knight511 View Post


    Kuat Sherpa using the 1.25 hitch on the back of my Mazdaspeed 3. A roof rack was going to just be too expensive.
    That looks super sick! I've always loved the white hatchbacks. I'll post a picture of mine tomorrow or maybe Saturday, I just installed the hitch tonight.

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